Reconfiguring Communities of Practice through Codification of Knowledge. The French Blast Furnace Case Study
This paper examines processes of knowledge codification in the steel industry, where the main challenge consists in de-contextualising the local knowledge of experts that typically belong to different "communities of practice" The paper starts by reviewing the basic concepts of communities, knowledge articulation and codification in order to provide greater conceptual clarity and as a basis for proposing an analytical framework underlining the crucial role of practitioners. It then describes the SACHEM project, which provided for the introduction of an important programme of knowledge articulation and codification in the steel industry. The analysis shows how articulation and codification process resulted in the creation of a new organizational memory involving the reconfiguration of existing "communities of practice". The organisational consequences of this process were not neutral, as it resulted in centralised and decentralised memories, parts of which can be traded on the external market. Moreover, organisational capabilities in the industry are now less dependent on the human holders and are increasingly anchored in the organisation and its shareholders.
Community of practice, Codification and articulation of knowledge, Steel industry, Organizational capabilities, Organizational memory